An acid attack survivor from India, Laxmi, read out a moving poem about her ordeal in an awards ceremony after she was honored by First Lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday.
The United States Department of State and the U.S. Institute of Peace co-hosted the 2014 International Women of Courage Awards in Washington D.C.
The annual event is held to celebrate and encourage women around the world who have shown courage, leadership, and have worked for the protection and promotion of women's rights.
Out of the numerous remarkable people present at the awards, Laxmi moved the audience, including Mrs. Obama, with some very powerful verses that narrated the story of her suffering.
She was attackedwhen she was 15 years old in 2005 by a 32-year-old man – a friend’s brother – who threw acid on her face at a bus stop in Delhi after she refused to marry him.
After undergoing several painful surgeries, Laxmi decided to fight violence against women and became an activist.
She speaks out against acid attacks which are rampant in India.
Her efforts, according to the U.S. State Department, led the Supreme Court of India to order the central and state governments of the country to regulate the sale of acid, and the Parliament to make prosecutions of acid attacks easier to pursue.
Around 1,500 acid attacks are reported worldwide every year, according to the London-based charity Acid Survivors Trust International.
Although India is one of the three nations – besides Bangladesh and Cambodia – where acid-throwing is common, no official statistics available and no laws treat it as a separate crime in the country.
Here’s Laxmi’s poems transcript:
“You hold the acid that charred my dreams.
Your heart bore no love. It had the venom stored.
There was never any love in your eyes. They burn me with caustic glance.
I am sad that your corrosive name will always be part of my identity that I carry with this face.
Time will not come to my rescue. Every surgery will remind me of you.
You will hear and you will be told that the face you burned is the face I love now.
You will hear about me in the darkness of confinement.
The time will be burdened for you.
Then you will know that I am alive, free and thriving and living my dreams.”
You can watch her recite the poem at the 2014 International Women of Courage Awards in the video below.